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Wait...What?...Runs out of money!

Okay, a little background for those not familiar with this breaking story.  

Since 2009 the City Of Los Angeles has been operating a gun buyback program.  

According to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa  

Since the inception of the program in 2009, there has been a 39 percent drop in gang crimes and 33 percent drop in shots-fired calls, translating into 241 fewer people shot in the city.”
Wow, I did not know that this program was so popular.  Granted, I don’t live in Los Angeles, but seriously, this seems like the kind of story that would have garnered nationwide attention long before now.  It turns out that this is an annual program that is usually scheduled for Mother’s Day but was moved up due to the increased awareness brought by the tragedy in Newtown.  But anyway, back to the Mayor:

Again in speaking of the gun buyback program that has been in place since 2009

Mayor Villaraigosa credits the gun buyback program, which allows residents to turn in weapons with "no questions asked," with getting close to 8,000 firearms off the streets.”
More below the fold.

According to nbclosangeles the citizens who turned in the guns (including anti tank rocket launchers by the way) received Ralphs Supermarket gift cards in return.  These cards were valued at $100 and $200.  $100 for a handgun, shotgun or a rifle, and $200 for an assault rifle.  No word on what they paid for the two old LAWS anti-tank rocket launchers.  

Anyway, I put a pencil to this equation and came to the following conclusion.  In one day Ralphs Supermarkets just bought some of the most positive press they could have ever hoped to garner for just over $200,000.  Lawrence did a segment on this last night and concluded that he’s driving past Whole Foods and shopping at Ralphs from now on.  I’m sure he’s not alone.  In fact I know of about 2000 gift card recipients from just this one day event that are also going to be shopping at Ralphs.  And I bet they are not going to limit their spending to just the $100 or $200 gift card amount.

It appears that this is really a simple program.  What do you need?  Cops, cash and guns.  I’m sure we have plenty of willing police and sheriffs departments anxious to get guns off of their streets.  It’s apparent that we also have plenty of citizens that are anxious to get the guns out of their homes.  In Los Angeles people actually waited in line for up to two hours in order to get rid of their guns.  That leaves us with the question of where we get the cash.

As I stated above, it seems to me that this is excellent public relations for any corporation.  In this day and age corporations sponsor lots of things in the public sphere and that list from time to time includes things that I’m sure they wish they didn’t sponsor.  Rush Limbaugh immediately comes to mind, but I digress.  This would appear to be an absolute win for any corporate PR department.  There are plenty of huge corporations that are in serious need of some good PR right about now.  And these corporations are sitting on record amounts of cash.  Trillions in fact.

Ralphs Supermarkets is a Kroger company.  According to the Kroger website they own 2422 stores in 31 States.  These stores include Kroger, Fred Meyer, Fry’s, Qfc, and Smiths.  With Ralphs they have seen first hand how successful this program can be, so I hope they plan to expand it to their other entities.  But why not other corporations?  Corporations that are in serious need of some good public relations these days.  The banks, telecoms, health insurers, energy companies or any of the multitudes of bad actors we’ve seen over the last decade.  How about you Wal-Mart!  I know you sell guns to people that want them, but what stops you from buying guns back from people that don’t.  Hell, in the age of gift cards and vanity credit cards any company can slap their name on a Visa or MasterCard, participate in a gun buyback program, and get some much needed positive PR out of it.  

If we consider the price structure for the Los Angeles buyback program:

$1 million gets 6,666 guns off of the streets so $100 million buys back 666,600 guns and $1 billion scores us 6,666,000 guns.  Considering that there are approximately 300 million guns in the US this seems feasible.  And this money goes right back into the economy. At the billion-dollar level it’s starting to resemble a small corporate sponsored public stimulus instead of the dreaded government sponsored public stimulus conservatives love to hate.  Who is the loser here?

We need to urge our political representatives and police chiefs to go out and get these corporations to ante up.  A little prodding should be all that is needed to get them to see the light.  How about the Vice-Presidents newly formed task force?  How about a White House petition?  They seem to be popular these days.  I sign DKOS petitions all the time.  I don’t know the logistics of these DKOS petitions but is this something we can do?  Is it something we should do?  Am I missing something on this?  I fear that this is more complex than I make it out to be but it sure seems like a “no brainer” to me.

Conclusion: This does not have to be a government buyback of our guns, although I would support that also.  It can be a corporate buyback instead.  That is something that may be more palatable to a large segment of our population and anything that gets guns off of the street has to be a considered a step in the right direction.

Note: In doing research for this diary I did see that these buyback programs are being done in scattered cities throughout the country and even internationally.  I guess the Australia program has to be considered the mother of all buyback programs.  So I’ll grant that while this not a new idea, it is certainly an idea that needs to be greatly expanded upon and even privately sponsored.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I put commas in your tags (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Torta, Just Bob, cany

    but didn't add or remove any.

    "I watch Fox News for my comedy, and Comedy Central for my news." - Facebook Group

    by Sychotic1 on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 07:18:02 AM PST

  •  Little Things Matter (4+ / 0-)

    I live a few miles from, per capita, the most deadly city in the nation. We're killing each other wholesale. A program like this, and there is Krogers here, would buy them millions and millions in goodwill!

    When opportunity calls pick up the phone and give it directions to your house.

    by webranding on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 07:24:49 AM PST

  •  Somehow this story reminded me of (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nzanne, Cedwyn, Sychotic1, FG, sweatyb

    when the printing press came out and some guy printed copies of The Holy Bible - which weren't supposed to be in the hands of ordinary people apparently (off topic, but boy does Modern America ever make that idea prescient!).

    So the Divinely Appointed King bought the entire press run.  Thus funding the printing of an even larger batch of that quite nefarious book . . . .

    So, I can just see 6,666,666 (nice number, btw!) people lining up to get $$s for old guns they no longer need/want and at the same time getting a good down payment on a new one.

    I suspect this is the type of initiative even the NRA could love.

    •  That's certainly true, but it will also take (3+ / 0-)

      real, dangerous guns off the street.

      Great PR! Great idea! I think we should write Kroegers and tell them how much we appreciate Ralphs. Maybe even get a petition going, saying that we'll switch our business to a Kroegers store [or other] if / when they put money up for this program?

      "I can't do it by myself. No president can. Remember: Change doesn't happen from the top. It happens because of you." B Obama, 2008

      by nzanne on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 07:41:56 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm interested to know what Ralph's does (0+ / 0-)

        with the guns it buys.

        And is there a seven day waiting period, etc etc for each transaction?  Or do these transactions fall under the frightening "gun show" loophole?

        •  Typically they're melted down and the metal (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Odysseus, Sychotic1, Roadbed Guy, cany

          recycled into other things (e.g., NJ's program melts them down and turns them into stuff like light posts).

          We don't want our country back, we want our country FORWARD. --Eclectablog

          by Samer on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 08:10:50 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  This particular program is run by the LAPD (4+ / 0-)

          and is sponsored by Ralphs.  According to the LA Times there are no questions asked of the sellers and the guns will be melted down.

          In response to your other comment up-thread, I agree that this program is not perfect.  Your probably right in assuming that getting these guns off of the street creates a vacuum for more guns to be sold.  That may be true but the statistics still point to this as being a very effective program.

          •  Thanks for the response! (0+ / 0-)

            But deep down inside, I'd really really like to see the underlying statistics:

            That may be true but the statistics still point to this as being a very effective program.
            since my own Googling on the subject has met with decidedly mixed metrics on the success and effectiveness of these programs - for example, at the very most these programs have gotten something like 0.01% of the gun off our street (or out of our homes) - does that make a difference? - who knows.

            But it seems like an a "good" day for guns sales (e.g., that day after Newtown) that effect is totally swamped out.  Instantly.

            •  Okay, You got me on that one. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Roadbed Guy

              I was thinking of the super positive statistics that Australia achieved after their buyback.  That buyback however, was mandatory.  So ya, not the same thing.  But I still think that we would end up with a net positive outcome for reducing guns overall. Not everyone is going to buy another gun.

              •  It's difficult to compare with Australia (0+ / 0-)

                where there were fewer guns to begin with, and yes - that "mandatory" thing comes into play as well.

                I suspect we'd need quite a large fleet of those possibly mythical  UN Black Helicopters to enforce anything like that in this country

      •  It certainly wouldn't hurt. (3+ / 0-)

        The vast amount of corporate cash that is piling up right now could do so much to help in this area.  How about Verizon cell phone bill credits or Shell gas cards.  The possibilities seem endless.

    •  Given that they are likely not offering the (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Roadbed Guy

      market price for the guns, I think it's fine. After all, not everyone will spend the money they got on a new gun.

      •  I'm not saying it's a bad thing (0+ / 0-)

        just that it's almost certainly a publicity stunt - not really anything substantial.

        for comparison:

        The Federal Bureau of Investigation recorded more than 16.8 million background checks for gun purchases in 2012
        and
        the firearms industry had a $31.8 billion impact on the economy last year, up from $27.8 billion in 2009
        link

        That means that for every gun turned in at this event, at least 8,400 new ones went out the door this year.

        And for every dollar spent on this scheme, $159,000 was spent in the larger gun economy.

    •  buy all you want, we'll make more (0+ / 0-)

      Gun buyback is a good idea, but it's a futile effort since gun manufacturers are continuously making and selling more guns.  

      The process of moving a legally manufactured and sold gun to the point where it can be purchased illegally and used for street crime is not instantaneous, so these programs do have some limited effect.

      But in the medium term, these guns are just being replaced by newly fabricated ones.  For gun manufacturers, buyback programs are a terrific source of planned obsolescence.

      Implicit in this is the disgusting fact that gun manufacturers knowingly (though they're sly about it) profit from gang and drug violence.

  •  You could do this yourself. (0+ / 0-)
    Conclusion: This does not have to be a government buyback of our guns, although I would support that also.  It can be a corporate buyback instead.
    There's no reason to get corporations involved at all.
    Contact your local sheriff's department, hang out a shingle and go.

    I'm in for $50.

    -7.75 -4.67

    "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

    There are no Christians in foxholes.

    by Odysseus on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 08:23:08 AM PST

    •  Good point! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SanFernandoValleyMom, Odysseus

      I was actually thinking of something vaguely akin to your suggestion for the diary, but it started to get a little long.  I was thinking that DKOS could partner up with some of the local small businesses in San Jose and sponsor a gun buyback at Netroots.  Does that sound realistic or am I just dreaming?

  •  When Australia banned all non-hunting guns (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ForestLake, entrelac, bhut jolokia

    in the 1990's (after another spree shooting), they instituted a 1% income tax top-off to pay for a buyback.  The buyback was mandatory; anyone who kept their now-illegal gun would no longer be law-abiding but a criminal.

    That worked, too, as many others have pointed out.  If you can get over 6,000,000 guns out of circulation with a billion dollars, you could get all the non-hunting guns out of circulation for less than 50 billion, which is what we spent every season in Iraq.  

    Conservatives need to realize that their Silent Moral Majority is neither silent, nor moral, nor a majority.

    by nominalize on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 08:25:23 AM PST

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